Viva la Chile! On Thursday, October 14 I was watching two broadcasts from Chile. Both broadcasts were marvels of modern technology (although one was of slightly greater importance). Live from Copiapo, I watched with the world as the last of 33 mine workers was resurrected from the depths of a mine that left them trapped for 69 days. At the same time I virtually tasted wine with eight wine makers via live satellite feed from Santiago hosted by Master Sommelier, Fred Dexheimer, for 50+ wine writers and bloggers located across the country. I was able to experience both of these events without leaving the comfort of my office chair and pink fuzzy slippers (I don’t really have pink fuzzy slippers, but if I did no one ever would know).
The Chilean mine worker rescue was a triumph of the human spirit, the fight for survival, and brought hope and joy to an entire nation. The Chilean wine tasting was just a yummy surprise. In a very rushed hour we swirl, sniff, sip, spit (mostly) through eight unique red blends from four of Chile’s wine growing regions. To briefly sum up the night; Chile is making some damn fine wine! There wasn’t a single one of these wines that was disappointing, and more than a few were quite surprising. While the wines were provided as a sample for a winesofchile.org tasting, I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for these labels.
From a broad stroke perspective, these red blends all seemed to offer a great deal of complexity with vibrant aromas of violet, eucalyptus, wild flowers and tobacco. In the mouth each wine seemed to be quite velvety with an earthy minerality in the finish. Each of these components seemed to offer a sense of place, or terroir for Chilean wine. I was impressed with the winemakers approach to unique blending of Syrah and Carmenere or Pinot Noir and Syrah. Rather than bore you with detailed notes on each wine, I’ll share a little about each, highlighting my favorites.
If you feel like reading some other thoughts on the event, check out my friends here:
- 1WineDude – http://www.1winedude.com/index.php/2010/10/21/badges-of-honor-and-wine-in-chile-wines-of-chile-red-blends-tasting/
- WinePeeps – http://winepeeps.com/2010/10/19/wines-of-chile-exploring-chilean-red-blends/
2007 Emiliana Coyam
The blend of 38% Syrah, 21% Cabernet, 21% Carmenere, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Mourvedre exploded with massive aromas of fruit, flowers and spice. I loved the fragrant eucalyptus and violets juxtaposed with the spilled spice rack. The wine is also full of flavor in the mouth with a powerful, yet soft dark fruit and evergreen tree. The oak treatment is very well integrated and the 15% ABV does not come across as strikingly hot. The finish on the wine is thick without being chewy or tart. This Bordeaux style wine is top notch wine for just $29 suggested retail. 4+/5
Emiliana is 100% organic and biodynamic.
*As an example of diversity of tastes, my wife didn’t care for this one so much. Joe and Kori, referenced above, gave it lower marks than I as well.
2007 Casas Del Bosque Family Reserve
The unique use of Pinot Noir as a blending grape (13%), along with the primary use of Syrah (61%) and Merlot (26%) was intriguing. The blend saw an extended time on skins with a total of 33 days of maceration and fermentation before resting for 22 months in new French oak barrels. The result is an intensely dark and black glass color. The amazing complex aromas offer something different with each sniff. In the beginning I picked up lavender, and sour fruit, but as time elapsed there were additional fragrances of campfire, cocoa, and exotic spices. In the mouth this wine is strong and sexy, refined and powerful, confident and playful. There are blasts of blueberry and vanilla that compliment the bitter baking chocolate and minerality very nicely. While built to cellar and age, this wine will taste remarkably better in 10 years, but is no slouch for the less patient too. At $50 it was the most expensive wine of the night, easily worth the expense. 4/5
2008 Montes Limited Selection
While not the best wine of the night, it certainly did surprise as the best bang for your buck. At only $15 the simple blend of 70/30 Cab/Carmenere was full of coco, minerality and herbs on the nose with a very full mouth feel of dark fruit and leather. This wine plays well with its bigger brothers in quality and price. 3+/5
One of the more enjoyable moments of the night was when winemaker Aurelio Montes Del Campo was explaining the feng shui layout of the winery, saying, “Happy people make happy wine.” This wine certainly made me happy, so maybe he’s on to something.
2008 Hacienda Aruacano
31% Syrah, 29% Cab Franc, 23% Cab Sauv, 17% Carmenere; 14.2%ABV – With elegant ruby colors in the glass the wine has great aroma of evergreen, clove, dark berry fruits and a subtle hint of exotic spice. Starts very thick in the mouth and then evolves into lots of layers of flowers, blackberry, and meat. The wine has a bright finish that is thrown off by a slightly disjointed minerality. At $23, a bargain. 4/5
2006 De Martino Las Cruces
A single vineyard field blend of 66% Malbec and 34% Carmenere; 14.7%ABV. The color starts dark in the center and shines with pink and purple hues toward the edge of the glass. My notes say, “love, love, love the nose. Like a field of wild flowers and rocky soil.” The wine has nice flavors raspberry and flowers. Hints of licorice and earth come through but the wine finishes long and strong with many layers of flavor. At $45, I score it 4/5
2006 Estampa Gold
57% Carmenere, 23% Cab Sauv, 12% Cab Franc and 8% Petit Verdot; 14.7% ABV – In the glass, nice deep plum color with candied edges. Soft blueberry aroma on the nose with hints of tobacco and spice. In the mouth the wine has a slight sweet candied berry and a full thick palate. At $22 3+/5
1WineDude gave a “B” and WinePeeps rated it their favorite of the night
2005 Valdivieso Eclat
The oldest wine of the night and the most unique blend of 56% Carignan, 24% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah was light with translucent ruby colors in the glass. A tight nose that has a grip on the wild flower and mineral aromas. Flavors of light fruit combined with a rich earthy mid-palate give way to a slight cocoa finish and good crisp acidity. $27, 3+/5
2006 Lien Maquis
42% Syrah, 30% Carmenere, 12% Cab Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, and 7% Malbec; 14.5%ABV – Dark and thick plum in the glass with fragrance of spice, mint, and bright red fruit. A lush mouth feel with nicely integrated oak and a thick back end. At just $19 a well made wine 3+/5